TOWAMENCIN >> Luke McCallion grew up dreaming of moments like this and on Thursday night he made the most of his opportunity.
Four goals by the senior forward, including two in the fourth quarter, propelled 10th-seeded Haverford to a 12-11 victory over No. 7 North Penn in a District 1-AAA second round Game.
“Our motto the past few games has been play like it’s overtime,” McCallion said, “and with that mentality I feel like we’re unstoppable. Hopefully we keep rolling.”
A shorthanded goal by McCallion less than a minute into the fourth stretched the Fords’ lead to 11-9. North Penn got within 11-10 on a goal by Max Lehrman but on came McCallion again, inflating the margin to two.
Tension rising, the Knights cut it to 12-11 with 33 seconds to play, on a goal by Nicolas Conroy, but one more save by Haverford keeper by Dan Tierney locked it up for the Fords.
Haverford advances to Saturday’s quarterfinals and a trip to No. 2 Garnet Valley at 2 p.m.
“We played them in the very beginning of the season and it was a great game (an 8-7 GV win). They’re a great team,” McCallion said. “And now that Matt Moyer is back for them, one of the best players in the country, it’s gonna be a great game.”
North Penn, which had a 4-2 lead in the second quarter but could not quite catch the Fords in the second half, matched its furthest push ever into districts — last year the Knights also reached the second round.
“We were very young on defense this year and Haverford has a high-powered offense and I knew that coming in,” Knights coach Rick Smith said. “But our ability to never give up, to fight through adversity, that’s a characteristic of this team and I could not be more proud of these guys.”
Haverford jumped to a 2-0 lead early.
McCallion bounced one in to put the Fords in front and then Nick Dilorio doubled the lead moments later, pumping his knees up and down in celebration.
“We always play better when we get that first jump,” McCallion said.
But North Penn came right back.
Stephen Rinck cranked a shot into the left corner to put the Knights on the board midway through the first quarter and then Nick Keim evened things at two apiece less than a minute later.
North Penn wasn’t done.
Controlling the ball and finding the right connections, Danny Payne scored back-to-back goals – late in the first and early in the second – to give NP its 4-2 advantage.
But in a back-and-forth first half, momentum and the lead tilted back to the Fords one final time.
Haverford scored four straight goals, two by Jack Daly and one each by Jack Farrell and John Scheivert, to push in front 6-4.
“In the game of lacrosse, it’s all about momentum, and when the momentum’s on your side, you wanna ride it and when you don’t have it, you gotta find a way to dig out of it,” Smith said. “And we did. We kept clawing out but we just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Reece Udinski, who racked up a half dozen assists in the contest, sliced the gap to 6-5 with five minutes to go before the half, and then McCallion bounced another in at the other end, providing the visitors a 7-5 lead at the break.
Haverford, also getting a total of three goals from Daly, stayed in front the whole way the second half. North Penn got a pair of tallies each from Keim, Payne and Eric Diamond in the contest, as this group worked to make the playoffs a habit at North Penn.
“This senior group really kept this core together and they did a great job the entire year,” Smith said of his team. “There’s such great memories that I built with them and they taught me a lot. I learned a lot from these guys.”
McCallion got to savor the victory afterwards, his little sister waving a giant Haverford flag as the team got together for a post-game huddle, following this breezy, warm night on the turf.
“I transferred my freshman year from The Haverford School,” the senior said. “I grew up in Haverford Township, went to middle school with these guys, and playing lacrosse with them was my dream. Haverford lacrosse has been one of the greatest things to happen to me.”
Top Photo: Haverford’s Luke McCallion (right) cradles the ball while North Penn’s Danny Payne (left) defends him during their District 1-AAA second round game on Thursday, May 18, 2017. Rachel Wisniewski/For Digital First Media)